Review of Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

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When I first heard about Emma Straub’s new novel Modern Lovers, I could hardly contain my excitement. Her previous novel The Vacationers quickly became one of my all time favorites, so I simply could not wait to see what her next literary creation had in store and let me just say that Modern Lovers did not disappoint!

In this novel, Elizabeth, Andrew, and Zoe are former bandmates and now neighbors with teenage children who are trying to navigate their own midlife crises. Zoe and her wife Jane’s relationship is on the rocks and just down the street, Elizabeth is struggling with buried romantic feelings for another person while her husband Andrew attempts to find a new purpose for his life in a local yoga studio. To add to the struggles of middle age and parenthood, a potential movie release about their fourth bandmate Lydia causes unresolved issues from their college days to resurface and further complicate their daily lives.

What makes this story so captivating is Emma Straub’s uncanny ability to write authentically from the perspective of any character, regardless of their age. Her flawless transitions between the voices of Elizabeth and Harry or Zoe and Ruby is what makes her novel so real and therefore enjoyable. Furthermore, her entrancing imagery makes every part of Ditmas Park come alive, allowing the reader to become fully immersed in the tangled midlife crises of Elizabeth, Andrew, Zoe, and Jane.

The drama that unfolds between the former bandmates and their teenage children is realistic and oddly reassuring to the reader that no one, even fictional characters, really has this whole life thing figured out. The underlying jealousies that complicate the friendships and marriages is are both subtle and relatable and ultimately make these characters jump off of the page.

Ultimately, Modern Lovers gave me all the feels! It beautifully captures the growing pains that emerge at all stages of life and is rounded off with an ending that gives the reader closure and simultaneously fills them with hope for their own lives. I absolutely recommend this book because I think everyone and anyone can find a little bit of themselves in each of the the characters that Straub brings to life.

5 out of 5 stars

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